On Wednesday (5 Jul) afternoon, the Leader of the House Indranee Rajah raised a point of order in Parliament concerning a Facebook post by the Progress Singapore Party (PSP).
The post, uploaded by the opposition party the previous day, contained a video clip from Monday’s Parliamentary proceedings where Non-constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) Leong Mun Wai was making clarifications on ministerial statements regarding the Ridout Road rentals.
The video showcased a text overlay indicating that Deputy Speaker Christopher de Souza had warned Mr Leong against initiating a debate during a Ministerial Statement, following Leong’s call not to end the debate prematurely.
The caption accompanying the post read: “In what some online commenters are calling another ‘sia suay’ moment.
The PSP’s Mr Leong and Hazel Poa are here to do whatever it takes to ensure that the voice of the people is heard.”
The term “sia suay,” a Hokkien colloquialism, typically describes embarrassing or disgraceful situations.
Addressing the House, Ms Indranee, who also holds the position of Second Minister for Finance, claimed, “The video gives a false impression of what occurred in Parliament.”
According to her, the video wrongly implies that the issues concerning the Ridout rentals could not be fully ventilated. She emphasized that the session in the video was not a debate but a platform for MPs to seek clarifications on delivered Ministerial Statements.
She further noted, “The video does not point out what happened after that,” adding that Mr Leong had asked 11 questions on Monday.
Ms Indranee also questioned the use of the term “sia suay” in the post and the implication that something embarrassing had occurred. She queried, “So there has to be something embarrassing. What is this embarrassing thing that it goes on to say that the PSP’s Leong Mun Wai and Hazel Poa are here to do whatever it takes to ensure that the voice of the people is heard?”
Her contention extended to the accompanying text, suggesting that Mr Leong and Ms Poa were being suppressed, and a debate was not allowed to proceed.
She further reminded the MPs present about the PPIPA (Parliament Privileges, Immunities and Powers) Act, which forbids the publication of statements defaming the proceedings or character of Parliament.
Indranee also recalled Mr Leong’s previous breaches in Parliament, where he had been required to apologise for his behaviour and retract his statements. Concluding her remarks, she challenged Mr Leong, the secretary-general of PSP, to justify the misleading post.
In response, Mr Leong asserted that the video was merely an “expression.” He explained that the phrase “sia suay” was used by the public to describe his actions.
He said, “We are saying that ‘Oh this is another example of sia suay,’ but actually what Leong Mun Wai was trying to do was to ask more questions to get more facts.”
Following Mr Leong’s clarification that “sia suay” was intended to parody what netizens online used to refer to him, Indranee demanded that PSP take down the video and tender an apology “in a form acceptable to Parliament” by Thursday.
“I will go back and we will discuss [this] within our party. And we’ll respond to the [Parliament] as soon as we can,” responded Mr Leong.